INSIDE RUNNER

Nigeria 2015 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Bola Akindele, Group Managing Director of Courteville Business Solutions (CBS), on the e-shopping and online operations solutions his company offers in the Nigerian market.

Bola Akindele
BIOGRAPHY
Bola Akindele holds a degree in Animal Science from the University of Ile-Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, and a Master’s in Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos. He is currently the Group Managing Director of Courteville Business Solutions, a company he has been with for over 20 years. He has previously worked for the Central Bank of Nigeria and several private sector financial organizations.

What would you say are your core business services?

Courteville Business Solutions (CBS) offers services aimed at improving process efficiencies for the private and public sectors. This provides us with opportunities to look at gaps and overlaps in how things are done. We can then decide whether to apply a system to walk a firm through the development of a web or application processing system. We choose to go with mobile web or application services to help companies deliver their products and services to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. AutoReg is our flagship tool, while the other new one is Egole Shopping, an online shopping site that I am proud to say is the only profitable e-commerce site in the whole of West Africa. There are over 250 merchants on Egole Shopping that have been provided with virtual office suites and shops through which they can sell their goods. That is what we do. We help buyers get onto the site, and help companies to sell their products. However, you cannot always successfully copy and paste a model that apparently works well in the West into the Nigerian Market. You have to take culture into consideration, which is what we have done with Egole, a shopping platform that allows over 10,000 users, on a daily basis, to visit the site and browse for goods.

What tools does Courteville offer to different industries?

We have a relationship with the Nigerian Insurance Association, whereby we designed, developed, and manage the entire database management system for insurance policy issuance on motor vehicles across the whole of Nigeria on behalf of the Association. And now, we are in the process of adding marine insurance policy documentation to that. Thanks to practices like this, every single motor vehicle in Nigeria is now authentically insured. I would hope to see a model like this not only implemented by Courteville, but also by the insurance industry as a whole. It would contribute greatly to the way the general tariff is structured in Nigeria. It would also help insurance companies in confirming when the customer signs a policy with them. It allows the regulators of the industry to get a clearer sense of the kind of business that is happening in the industry, and this has been a major issue in the past. We also work with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) by providing a system that has allowed it to reduce the processing period for the approval of certification processes of all manufactured products or imported/exported goods from what used to be, say nine months to a year, down to a week.

What are the benefits of working on projects such as this in Nigeria?

We realized that there is a huge gap between the supply of education and demand in the country and across Africa. While demand is huge, the number of institutions is insufficient to accommodate it. We also realized that the direction of the curriculum is focused on academic sciences. We want to educate using our RELAY online educational platform, which was created in collaboration with Ravensbourne University in the UK. We are starting in five main areas: fashion pattern cutting, fashion promotion, website design and content management, interior design, and film editing and post-production. We are able to achieve the same kind of quality in online education, but cheaper at around £200 for one module. This is the first of its kind anywhere in this part of the world. Everything about our model is locally designed and implemented in Nigeria; we design solutions to match and to identify with what is necessary to specifically overcome Nigeria's challenges. We believe that over the next five years, and through our medium-term strategy and service provision, our next focus cuts across West Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. As an ISO-certified company, we have been able to deliver services matching international standards. We employ about 200 staff, but indirectly employ about 10,000 people across Nigeria.